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Whatever Happened About…

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By MELODY JAMESON

…AB rezoning

Efforts by Apollo Beach area residents to block rezoning for commercial development of three acres on Miller Mac Road will continue after county commissioners reviewed the situation  last week.  They remanded the matter for further consideration and are to take it up again on March 14.

Whatever-happened-artThe site, once headquarters for the AB Rescue Squad and now surrounding a Tampa Electric Company substation, is owned by Leroy Gonzalez who wants commercial zoning to allow construction of three one-story office buildings. Area residents, many of them retirees living in Southshore Falls with backyards close to the Gonzalez property, oppose the rezoning on multiple grounds including projected traffic burden on two-lane Miller Mac subject to flooding, unsuitability of office buildings deep in a residential development and environmental concerns, said Bruce Davis, an opposition leader.

Organized opponents, 50 to 60 homeowners strong, appeared en masse January 11 when Hillsborough’s Board of County Commissioners heard pros and cons after a zoning hearing master approved the rezoning proposal. Commissioners raised questions about the roadway traffic as well as potential environment impacts on existing wetlands and suggested another look.         

…Backflow Resistance

Dave Brown, Sun City Center activist and long time foe of mandated above-ground backflow valves on residential properties, has been appointed to Hillsborough’s Cross Connection, Backflow and Back-Siphonage Control Board.  The advisory board appointment, made earlier this month by county commissioners and effective immediately, is for a four-year term, according to the official notice from commission chairman Al Higginbotham.  

Brown has campaigned vigorously for the last several years against forced installation by the county of the large, above-ground valves on homesites with alternative water sources – particularly in AB and SCC – based on numerous contentions, including that the mechanisms are vulnerable to theft for their metal content and to tampering by anyone wishing to contaminate the public water supply. He demonstrated his theory repeatedly around the state and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection began rewriting the governing rule a year ago.  Mandated backflow valve installations at residences currently are on hold in Hillsborough County.

The activist received the county’s Moral Courage Award in 2009.   

…SCC CA Board

Community Association directors filled the last vacancy on their nine-person board January 12 when they officially appointed Jane Keegan to the seat opened by the resignation of Anne Cross.  Keegan was one of three applicants for the position, board president Ed Barnes said.

With a full board seated, the group also was able to choose Bob Black as its vice president for the 2011 calendar year. Black, a veteran director and former vice president, was re-elected to the board in December for only a one-year term at his request.

…Manatee Viewing

Some 20,000 visitors helped Tampa Electric Company celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Manatee Viewing Center during the January 15-16 weekend.  Well over 3 million have visited the facility in the last quarter century. What began with a small parking lot now enables the public to observe and photograph hundreds of the manatees, also known as sea cows, from a meandering boardwalk as the legally protected marine life lounges in the warmed water outflow from the Big Bend generating plant.

Several area non-profit wildlife refuges also joined the celebration with exhibits and visitors were treated to give-a-ways along with nominally priced manatee cookies from Tampa’s Alessi Bakery.    

The viewing facility now includes a revamped indoor interactive museum and gift shop as well as a newly designed butterfly garden.       

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson
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